SOURCE: Grain Foods Foundation

January 31, 2011 05:00 ET

Eating Healthy for Two

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - January 31, 2011) - (Family Features) What you eat not only affects you, it could affect your unborn child.

Of the four million women who give birth in the US each year, some 3,000 babies are born with neural tube defects, which include certain birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. Folic acid is a critical element needed for proper spinal cord development during the first three weeks of pregnancy. Because this is often before a woman even knows she's pregnant, it's important for women of child-bearing age to follow a healthy lifestyle and to include folic acid as part of her diet.

The Grain Foods Foundation would like to remind all women of child-bearing age of the important role folic acid plays in preventing birth defects. Enriched breads -- and many other grains such as rice, tortillas, pasta and cereal -- are important sources of folic acid. 

  • White flour is enriched with three major B vitamins (niacin, thiamin and riboflavin), as well as iron, and is fortified with the B vitamin folic acid.
  • Enriched flour contains two times as much folic acid as its whole grain counterpart -- making enriched grains the largest source of folic acid in the diets of most Americans. Whole grain products, with the exception of some breakfast cereals, are not fortified with folic acid.
  • Since the FDA required fortification of enriched grains, the number of babies born in the United States with neural-tube birth defects, which include certain birth defects of the brain and spinal cord, has declined by 26 percent.

Grain foods are a delicious and nutrient-dense component of a healthy diet and have been shown to help with weight maintenance. In fact, people who consume a medium-to-high percentage of carbohydrates in their diet have a reduced risk for obesity. This is important for women of child-bearing age as obese women who are pregnant have a significantly higher risk of needing a Cesarean section delivery, delivering too early, developing pre-eclampsia, and having an exceptionally large baby. They also face double the risk of stillbirth and neonatal death.

For a balanced diet, the USDA recommends at least six one-ounce servings of grains daily. Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain is a grain product. Bread, pasta, oatmeal and even tortillas and pretzels are examples of grain foods.

This recipe is a simple way to start incorporating enriched breads into a healthy diet. For more nutritional information and delicious recipes, visit www.gowiththegrain.org.

Breakfast Fruit Turnovers
Developed by Sara Moulton for the Grain Foods Foundation
Serves 1

2 slices enriched white bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons chopped dried apples
1 tablespoon dried cranberries
1 tablespoon butter, melted
  Vanilla yogurt for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Roll out bread with a rolling pin until flattened to about 1/16 of an inch.

Stir together apples and cranberries. Brush some of the butter on the edges of the bread. Mound one half of the dried fruit mixture just right of center in the middle of each piece of bread. Fold over the bread to form a triangle and enclose the filling. Pinch the edges of the bread together firmly to seal.

Arrange in one layer on a small baking sheet and brush the top of each turnover with the remaining butter. Bake the turnovers in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until pale golden.

Top each turnover with a spoonful of vanilla yogurt, if desired.

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